Recorded as Fillyscherch, Filliskirk, Philliskirk, and others, this is a locational surname. We thought that it may be Scottish, but if so it is not recorded in the Dictionary of Scottish surnames, nor does any similar place name in any known spelling appear in the gazetters of the British Isles for the past three centuries. However as there are a number of recordings in the surviving church registers of the city of London from at least the time of King James 1st of England and V1 of Scotland (1587 - 1625), we conclude that it is English. If so it would seem to originate from a now "lost" medieval village or settlement whose name apparently means "Phyllis's church." Phyllis or Fillis was a very late medieval female personal and later surname, and probably a derivation either of the male name Phillip or the female Felice, a form of Felicity. The lateness of the appearance of the personal name suggests that it was most unlikely that a church and village would have been named after it, unless there was a St Fillis, which does not seem to be the case. So the origin is a puzzle, as some surnames are. The earliest recording that we have been able to find is that Margaret Filliskyrcke, at the church of St Dunstans in the East, Stepney, on January 28th 1619, and her sister Mary, who was christened at St Margarets Westminster, on June 1st 1624, but as Filliskirk. Just to give the spelling another spin, John Philliskirke, who may well have been the brother or even father of the two girls (above), was recorded in that spelling at the same St Margarets, on November 15th 1635.
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